Evolving since it's earliest indoor iteration in 2001 to the birth of the open air festival format in 2005, Bloodstock has continued it's exponential growth year-after-year, becoming one of the most respected, anticipated metal music pilgrimages of the year.
The annual tradition endured hefty adversity in 2020 when an unprecedented pandemic forced organizers to halt plans for the festival's 20th anniversary celebration - a moment that would derail most other organizations but served to galvanize Bloodstock.
Returning as one of the marquee international festivals in 2021, the congregation at Catton Park was especially raucous, reveling in the heavy metal majesty that has been silenced the year prior and showing a special appreciation for tradition that could have been lost, only to come back stronger than ever before.
The 2022 edition moves forward with the same amplified sense of anticipation - pooling an international roster of heavy music's very best in what will no doubt be one of the strongest showings of the UK festival season. Spanning four stages across four days, more than 100 bands will storm Derbyshire, lead by headlining performances from the likes of black metal trailblazers Behemoth, heavy metal institution Mercyful Fate and groove metal Goliath, Lamb of God.
To better frame the scope of such a massive metal music undertaking, here is a focused summary of the likely standouts that will ensure the price of admission is well spent - the blockbusters of Bloodstock 2022.
There are times when festival headliners are more nostalgic than anything else - a name that merits the position on the bill, but doesn't necessarily make you want to stick around until the end of the show. Not the case with Bloodstock. In fact, Behemoth, Mercyful Fate and Lamb of God all have highly-anticipated new records in the works. Particularly in the case of Mercyful Fate, the band's reactivation has resulted in the first real touring stretch in more than two decades to go along with the new pending new material. As for both Behemoth and Lamb of God, both bands have cultivated a legacy decades deep and still continue to operate at their creative peak with Opvs Contra Natvram and Omens already earning high praise as some of the bands' best work to date respectively. Not content to rest of their laurels and rely on legacy however, all three bands put on the kind of live spectacle that commands that top spot.
Last year, the Jersey deathcore cult took on new life when they officially announced Will Ramos as the band's new vocalist and unleashed the phenomenon that is "To the Hellfire". The track arguably became the song of the summer, launching the band into a new stratosphere of awareness and cementing the resurgence of deathcore on a universal level - Lorna Shore played Lollapalooza for crying out loud. Touring relentlessly since, the band's first full length project with the current configuration, Pain Remains, is already earning AOTY-type buzz, showcasing their immersive music intensity that translates flawlessly live.
The future of heavy music looks incredibly bleak and bright simultaneously with bands like Vended at the helm. The Des Moines outfit solidified their hype last year with the arrival of their What Is It/Kill It EP and hitting the road in support of the release ever since. Forging their own creative identity apart from their famous lineage, the band's volatile spew and violent musicality doesn't adhere to any genre rules or stylistic norms. Their live sets are pure eruption - the kind of performative purge that proves wholly convincing in whipping up the circle pit almost instantly. The energy is infectious, their bite is vicious, and what is even scarier is that their potential is yet to be realized. Don't miss this one.
Just how committed to their craft is groove outfit Jinjer? Since February, their native country of Ukraine has been under attack from Russian military forces. Despite that grim reality, the Ukrainian Ministry Of Culture granted Jinjer passage to leave the country to tour internationally and function as ambassadors of the people of Ukraine. That is how important this band is. The band's 2021 release Wallflowers earned universal acclaim and cemented the groove metal goliath as one of the best in the game - both live and on record. Currently trekking Europe supporting Slipknot, Jinjer understand how to dominate live - expect fireworks during their set.
The fusion of Punjabi pop and traditional Indian percussion into metal has proven to be a potent combination. For fans just discovering the band, their sound really does tap into a sense of revelation. Bloodywood's creative duality via their introductory LP Rakshak is both artistic and authentic on a cultural level while still framing the band's love for aggressive music front and center. Embracing the bounce and dual vocalist flair of nu-metal with their own unique arrangements, Bloodywood's trajectory, much like their live energy, is skyrocketing.
The Sheffield unit recently dropped what many believe to be their best album to date in Malicious Intent, with the band earning lofty comparisons to that of a contemporary Pantera. Far from hyperbole however, Malev's live prowess is pure power - as the boys hit like a sledgehammer when they take the stage. Delivering highlight performances at Download, Slam Dunk, Full Force and crushing most recently at Knotfest Germany, Bloodstock should be on notice.